Indonesia Destination Guide

Best time to visit

Indonesia can be visited year-round and experiences a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons. The wet season from October to April brings high humidity and afternoon downpours that can last up to four to five hours bringing with it possible flooding. The best time to visit Indonesia is during the dry season from May to September. The season is characterised by generally warm to hot tropical sunny weather with occasional afternoon rain showers which typically don’t last longer than an hour or two. The weather in mountainous and highland areas experience cooler weather in both seasons. 

 

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Best time to go

Java

The best time to visit Java is during the dry season which runs from May to September. Travel peaks in the months of July and August and accommodation cost are usually much higher. The rainy season falls between October to April with January and February being the wettest months. You should expect some rain throughout the year, even in the dry season. Most rains are short lived and fall in the afternoon for a couple of hours. There is plenty of sunshine year round except in the rainy season when the skies are cloudy.
During the holiday festivities such as Muslim holiday Eid, traffic tends to be heavy especially in Java.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 24℃ 24℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃
 Average maximum temperature
29℃ 29℃ 30℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 30℃ 29℃
 Average hours of sunshine
5 5 6 7 7 7 7 8 8 7 6 6
 Average rainfall in mm
390 280 221 140 118 92 61 65 69 108 133 208

Bali

Although Bali is a year-round destination, the best time to visit Bali and Lombok is during the dry season from May to September. The busiest months are July and August as well as the Christmas/New Year period. This is the best period for water sports such as scuba diving, surfing and snorkelling. For lower hotel prices, consider travelling in April, May, June and September when the weather is still dry and the traffic and beaches are generally less crowded. May is the hottest month in Bali with average temperatures of 28C. The coldest and wettest month is January with average temperatures of 26°C although sea temperatures remain warm. 

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
23℃ 22℃ 23℃ 22℃ 23℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃
 Average maximum temperature
29℃ 30℃ 30℃ 32℃ 33℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 30℃
 Average hours of sunshine
6 6 7 8 9 10 10 9 9 7 7 6
 Average rainfall in mm
330 266 209 93 88 63 55 31 50 118 168 278

Lombok, Flores and the Gilis

January and February are the wettest months on the islands of Lombok, Flores and the Gilis. It rains every day but is not as heavy as those in Bali. Temperatures remain constant around 29 °C. April sees the onset of the dry season with temperatures climbing to 31 The best time to travel is from May until September, expect hot and sunny days with clear blue skies, occasional showers and cool evenings. July and August are the peak months when hotel prices escalate and beaches are crowded.
November and December are the wettest months of the year and the islands of Lombok, Flores, and the Gilis will often have flooded roads and rough seas causing disruption to inter-island ferry schedules.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 23℃ 22℃ 21℃ 21℃ 22℃ 23℃ 24℃ 24℃
 Average maximum temperature
31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 32℃ 32℃ 31℃ 30℃ 31℃ 31℃ 32℃ 32℃ 31℃
 Average hours of sunshine
8 7 8 8 8 9 9 9 10 10 9 8
 Average rainfall in mm
97 122 135 92 60 28 20 4 28 109 216 140

Bukit Lawang (North Sumatra)

North Sumatra lies above the equator with many active and dormant volcanoes. On the east, there are mainly coastal low lying areas with mangrove swamps. The sandy beaches of North Sumatra are on the west coast. North Sumatra experiences a tropical climate with cooler temperatures in the highlands. The average temperature is between 21 to 30 degrees Celsius. There are two distinct seasons, wet and dry. The dry season is from late February to September and the wet season from October to January. January and February are the wettest months with temperatures averaging 30 degrees Celsius.

During the wet season, although heavy monsoon rains tend to be short-lived, falling for a couple of hours in the late afternoon, flooding and landslides often occur making travel difficult and roads inaccessible.

The best time of year to visit North Sumatra is from May to September when the weather is ideal for wildlife safaris, jungle activities, hiking and trekking. May and June herald the arrival of the dry season although occasional showers are still to be expected. This is a good time to visit for those who to avoid the crowds and the peak hotel prices. July and August are the two peak months where hotel prices escalate and the holiday crowd returns. Days are dry, the sun is abundant with occasional showers in the late afternoon.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
21℃ 20℃ 20℃ 21℃ 21℃ 21℃ 20℃ 21℃ 21℃ 21℃ 21℃ 21℃
 Average maximum temperature
30℃ 30℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃ 30℃ 30℃ 29℃ 20℃
 Average hours of sunshine
3 4 5 4 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 3
 Average rainfall in mm
240 167 213 245 286 196 177 223 279 331 329 301

Padang, Sumatra

"dry" from January to October with showers maybe twice a week, particularly in the evening or late afternoon.

"wet" in November and early December with rains nearly every day, particularly in the evening.

Constant breezes assure a good temperature even being in an equatorial area
The night temperature falls from the daily 30/32 ℃ down to 23/25 ℃.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
23℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 23℃ 23℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃
 Average maximum temperature
30℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 31℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 31℃ 30℃
 Average hours of sunshine
7 8 7 7 8 8 7 7 6 6 6 6
 Average rainfall in mm
351 259 307 363 315 307 277 348 352 495 518 480

Manado (North Sulawesi)

Manado enjoys a tropical climate with a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year. There are two distinct seasons, dry and wet. The wet season lasts from about November to March, with January being the coldest month and rough seas in December and January.
The dry season starts from April and lasts till October, with August the warmest month of the year. For divers, Manado is a year round diving destination as the sites in Bunaken and Manado Bay are sheltered. Generally, visibility remains good even during the rainy season. However, the overall best time to visit North Sulawesi for diving, trekking and water activities is during the months from May to October.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
22℃ 22℃ 23℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 22℃ 23℃ 23℃
 Average maximum temperature
28℃ 28℃ 29℃ 31℃ 32℃ 30℃ 30℃ 31℃ 31℃ 30℃ 30℃ 29℃
 Average hours of sunshine
5 6 6 8 7 7 8 9 8 7 7 7
 Average rainfall in mm
230 210 190 160 150 130 100 80 100 150 200 220

General travel tips

ARRIVAL BY AIR
Indonesia is an archipelago, so air travel is the most comfortable and efficient way to visit the country and its islands. Indonesia is one of Asia’s largest air hubs, so it is very well-connected to the rest of the world. Besides Sukarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta and Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, also several other airports are served by direct international flights.

AIRLINES
Indonesia’s air access from abroad and the domestic route network are constantly improving. While the national carrier Garuda Indonesia offers excellent services and operates its fleet on international safety standards, several airlines are EU-blacklisted. We do strongly recommend flying the national carrier Garuda Indonesia and will always include those flights into our proposal where domestic flights are required air access to a destination is possible with Garuda Indonesia.

AIRPORT TAX
Airport taxes for domestic and international flights are included in the airfares. There are no airport taxes payable upon departure.

ARRIVAL FORMALITIES
The filling-in of arrival/ departure declaration cards is not required anymore. However, all visitors have to fill in a customs declaration form (one per family if travelling together). The forms are usually available in the aircraft, and at the arrival hall before customs counters.

ATMs
ATMs for withdrawing Indonesian Rupiah are widely available in major airports, shopping malls, hotels, convenience stores and almost all provincial banks in Indonesia. For many banks, there is a maximum withdrawal of IDR 2,500,000 per transaction and depending on the ATM location lower amounts are possible. Usually, several withdrawals may be made in a single day. Ask your tour guide for help when you need to locate an ATM. Particularly at ATMs that are highly frequented in tourist areas and that are not supervised by security personnel, fraud through card skimming occurs regularly. We do strongly recommend using preferably ATMs that are located within banks or convenience stores and that are being supervised by security personnel!

BUSINESS HOURS
Most businesses are open from Monday to Friday. Government offices are open from 07:30 to 16:00 with some closing for lunch from 12:00 to 13:00. Many retailers and travel agencies are also open on Saturday and most shops are open on Sundays.

CLOTHING
Indonesia has a hot and tropical climate, so light and airy clothing such as cotton are more comfortable for travelling. The dress code is casual as in most parts of the tropics, but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. As Indonesia is a largely Muslim country, it is advisable to dress more conservatively, especially for women. Hammer and sickle symbols are prohibited by law. A lightweight raincoat or umbrella is a good idea in the rainy season from November through March. The months from July to September can be cooler, and especially when travelling to mountainous areas, such as the central and eastern parts of Bali (Kintamani, Sidemen, Bedugul) a warm pullover or a jacket is recommended. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious sites and temples. A sarong & waist sashes should be worn when visiting temples (these are often provided for a small fee at the temple entrance), and shoes should be removed before entering a private house.

CREDIT CARDS
VISA and MASTERCARD are widely accepted in Indonesia, as well as most other major credit cards. Not all shops and restaurants accept credit cards, so do check with the cashier before making any purchases. Bear in mind that some places may pass onto you the fee imposed on them by the credit card company (approximately 3-4% depending on card type). At shops and some restaurants, it is recommended not to leave credit card out of sight. Fraud does occasionally occur.

ELECTRICITY
Indonesia switched to 220V recently so in some areas 110V is still used. Most hotels use 220 volts, 50 cycles and a round, two-pronged slim plug. Bathroom shaver plugs usually have a transformer switch. We suggest taking an international adaptor plug for your appliances depending on where you arrive from.

ENTERTAINMENT
There are plenty of entertainment options in Indonesia and restaurants, bars and nightclubs open until late at night or early in the morning. Restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisine, ranging from Balinese, Thai, Chinese, and Italian to French.

FOOD
The staple of the Indonesian meal is rice, usually steamed or fried. The meal is complemented with main dishes of vegetables, meat, seafood, egg, fish and soup. Although Indonesians generally prefer hot, spicy food, not all dishes are so intense, and the number of chillies can be modulated to suit most tastes. Indonesia is also the perfect place to sample a large variety of tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple, banana, mangosteen, rambutan (hairy red skin fruit), salak (snake-skin fruit), jack fruit, as well as the famous durian- dubbed ‘the fruit of the gods’ for its very special smell and taste.

HEALTH
No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However, visitors should be vaccinated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A and B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions especially if travelling off the beaten track. The standard of medical facilities is generally good, and Java & Bali have international hospitals. Remember to wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. It is advisable to take out a good medical insurance policy before travelling in case evacuation is needed. Dengue Fever and rabies outbreaks do occur from time to time. With the prevalence of monkeys in and around temples in Bali and occasionally stray dogs in less frequented alleys, we ask that travellers take precaution to avoid making contact with them or teasing them.

INTERNET
Internet cafes are widely available and are easily found in major towns and cities. Prices are reasonable but may vary from IDR 6,000 – 10,000 an hour. In many internet cafes, you can buy pre-paid international phone cards to dial from a computer to a landline or mobile phone worldwide. Most internet cafés are equipped with webcams, headsets and microphones. Wi-Fi hotspots are available at most hotels, restaurants and cafes. Many hotels also have Business Centers with PCs connected to the internet or in-room broadband access. Please note that this service is not always free, and the rates are usually more expensive than at internet cafes. Buying a local SIM card and the respective package at about 60.000 to 100.000 IDR you will be able to have 3G (4G in bigger cities such as Jakarta, Denpasar or Surabaya) internet connectivity from your mobile phone for up to a month.

LANGUAGE
Bahasa Indonesia is the official national language. There are hundreds of regional dialects and variations in a speech from island to island, but the basic words remain the same. A large majority of the population, especially in areas more frequented by international travellers, such as Bali, Central Java and Lombok, as well as the county’s youth usually speak English.

MONEY
The Indonesian Rupiah (Rp or IDR) is the official currency of Indonesia. ATMs and moneychangers are found throughout the country and credit cards are accepted at major hotels and some restaurants. Caution is required with moneychangers that offer their services in small booths on the street. We do advise to change money only at authorised and professional money changers, that your tour guide will be able to point out to you, as well as at bank counters. Also, hotels and airports have money- changing facilities, but the rates are usually not matching the official rates provided by banks and authorized money changers.

POSTAL MAIL
Postcards are sold at all main tourist sites and stamps are available from post offices and some hotel reception desks. A postcard to Europe costs IDR 10,000 to send and can take two to three weeks to reach the country of destination.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
The yearly official public holiday calendar incorporates many religious holidays such as Islam’s Eid around mid-year and the Christmas or Good Friday. Tourist sites remain open although they may be busy with local travellers. Bali is a Hindu island and celebrates many more holidays including the unique ‘Day of Silence’ in March, on which NO services of any sort are available on this day, including flights. Guests must remain within their accommodation and may not enter the streets. The preceding night boasts colourful OgoOgo parades. Most religious ceremonies are colourful spectacles but should be respected by travellers. Please also note that during Eid al-Fitr you can double every road transport time indicted in Java, and many shops, sites and amenities are mostly closed, why we do not recommend this time to travel in Java.

RELIGION
In Indonesia, most of the population follows Islam, but most Balinese are Hindu. Religion plays a major role in every day of people life. Several different religions are practised in Indonesia, which exude a significant influence on the country's political, economic and cultural life. Officially, 5 religions are recognised by the official philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state, named Pancasila. According to it, Indonesian citizens must have a religion and it needs to be a religion that worships a god.

SAFETY
Indonesia is a safe country to visit. As a global rule, never leave your belongings unattended and always maintain eye contact or a firm grip on cameras and shoulder bags. Do beware of scams and touts that remain common in popular tourist destinations.

SHOPPING
Indonesia is known as a treasure trove of interesting souvenirs and handicrafts. A fascinating array of products, from traditional antiques to the latest quality fashions to ethnic handicrafts can be found at many local markets, shopping malls and boutique shops. At smaller shops, bargaining may be necessary, but it often adds to the fun of shopping in Indonesia. Shopping hours are generally from 09:00 to 22:00.

TELEPHONE
Most hotels have offer international dialling and fax facilities although be warned that these services are expensive in Indonesia. The best way to stay in touch is to buy a local SIM card at a convenience store for your mobile phone. They cost approximately IDR 10,000 and offer international dialling rates as low as IDR 7,000 per minute and free incoming international calls. Internet cafes usually offer cheap web-phone call systems as well, however, the quality is often poor. Buying a local SIM card and the respective package at about 60.000 to 100.000 IDR you will be able to have 3G (4G in bigger cities such as Jakarta, Denpasar or Surabaya) internet connectivity from your mobile phone for up to a month.

TIME
GMT +7 on Java and Sumatra,
GMT +8 on Bali, Lombok and Sulawesi,
GMT +9 on Maluku and West Papua.

TIPPING
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in Indonesia. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides, drivers and co-drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped for their service. Many restaurants declare a service charge on their bills, tips are thus included. Any further tipping is at your discretion.

TRAFFIC & DRIVING
Generally, an international driving license is accepted by Indonesian traffic authorities. Those on a self-drive holiday needs to be aware that driving behaviour of traffic participants is often not predictable, as rules are often interpreted flexibly. Bad accidents involving travellers on rented motorbikes and cars are common. Road and traffic conditions, as well as legal regulations and proceedings upon any incidents, differ much from those in the countries of origin.

TRANSPORTATION (PUBLIC)
Most taxis are now metered, with Bluebird taxi being the most reliable company. Bemos – pick-up trucks with rows of seats along each side – provide a unique and cheap form of local transport. Motorcycles and bicycles can also be hired in many places, but special care should be exercised at all times as road and traffic conditions can be dangerous in certain locations. Services such as Grab, Uber or the Indonesian motorcycle taxi service GoJek are available in urban areas, but there are conflicts with taxi drivers and local communities offering private transportation services. The cars are often allowed to drop-off guests while there are exclusion zones for the pick-up. During the tourist season in July and August, as well as the Christmas and New Year period, Bali can get crowded. Travelling around Indonesia is generally easy because people are friendly and happy to offer advice and directions.

PHOTOGRAPHY & FILMING
Photographing or filming people should be undertaken with care and respect. It is advised to ask for permission. Any commercial photo or video productions require official permits and the respective visa arrangements.

VISA
To receive an entry permit to the Republic of Indonesia, the passport needs to have a validity of a minimum of 6 months on the expected day of departure, and it must have one empty page available. All travellers must be able to show proof of an onward or return ticket upon arrival in Indonesia or when boarding to Indonesia. A photo is not required.

WATER
It is not advisable to drink tap water in Indonesia but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Iced in drinks are generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in the countryside.